Text reads: Why is art important to us all? Cartoon owl sitting and looking at a drawing tablet in front of them.

Art feels fancy. It’s claimed to be those paintings in a museum and frescos on marble walls. It’s supposed to be all the symphonies and operas played in high-class theatres. Art is said to be the mark of rich culture and high society.

Well, yes. Art is all those things. But it’s more than that.

Oh, much, much more.

What if I told you that art is important to us all? That without it we wouldn’t have entertainment?

Let me explain what I mean…

What’s the definition of art?

If I were to ask you to define the word “art”, what would you say? Would your answer be like this:

the activity of painting, drawing, and making sculpture

Cambridge Dictionary

Or would you be inclined to answer something like this:

the making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings

Cambridge Dictionary

Notice that both of the quotes are from the same online dictionary. And, indeed, both are the Cambridge Dictionary’s definition for art. However, it feels that the majority of people will think only of paintings and sculptures, possibly music, when they are challenged to define that word.

But today I want to draw your attention to the latter quote, the one that is actually the first definition in the Cambridge Dictionary: “the making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings”. Namely, pay attention to the last two words: express feelings.

Art is made to express feelings. But, as we humans are generally empathetic creatures, wouldn’t you say that it’s also made to cause feelings? To us who observe it?

And since we’re talking about feelings, wouldn’t you agree that this one is a feeling: being entertained.

And what else can make us entertained but enjoying entertainment! Like movies, comics, tv shows, books, video games…

All those things that we’re spending our free time on more than ever, especially during these exceptional times of planet-wide social isolation.

Thus we arrive at the topic I wanted to discuss with you. About entertainment being art. In order to narrow it down, I will focus on video games, but these thoughts are surely applicable to other entertainment media.

Is entertainment art? Case: video games

Movies are entertainment. But people seem to nowadays accept that movies are also art. In fact, they’re not only that in itself, but a combination of the quintessential art forms: visual arts, literature and music.

Guess what also combines visual arts, narrative and music into multimedia entertainment?

“Tv shows!”

Well, yes, but that’s not our topic today…

I’m talking about video games! They, like movies, are a combination of various art forms that come together to provide us entertainment. In fact, I’d argue that video games are a more complex form of art due their interactivity.

And also like movies, video games come in a wide spectrum of quality. There are timeless classics like Super Mario Bros. that new players discover and love playing again and again. And then there’s also forgettable trash that no one was impressed by and doesn’t even remember anymore. (I can’t name examples because I can’t recall any…) (See what I did there??)

But remember, art is not a measure of quality. It is “the making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings”. So art can absolutely be unsuccessful at being beautiful! Or really bad at expressing feelings!

So to me the answer is obvious: video games are art. They can be good art. They can be bad art. Nonetheless, they are art. While also being entertainment.

If entertainment is art, then art is important for entertainment!

If you can now accept video games being art, you’ll also understand how important art is. To everyone!

Especially now that many public places are locked down and people are holed up in their homes, there’s more demand for entertainment than ever before. And without art, that entertainment couldn’t be, well, entertaining.

So next time you are cozily curled up in a blanket playing a video game, or watching your favourite tv series or a movie, remember this:

  • A character designer designed your player character (and the options with what you can design your character).
  • A sound designer planned that perfect sound for a fist hitting a jawbone.
  • A scriptwriter did their best to help you follow the plot – and care for it.
  • A composer selected the right tunes to conjure an emotion inside you.
  • An art director worked to keep the visual style engaging and cohesive to make you immersed.

…and many, many more artistic professionals who have worked (and will work) to make our entertainment possible.

Vayandil

An artist who lurks in dark places and walks on her toes – a habit from when she was a little dinosaur. If invited for a friendly jog or to play some video games, deep ponderings about life, humanity and functional design choices may occur.

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